CHIPLEY Â– Â“ItÂ’s time.Â” Those words summed up Panhandle Watermelon Festival Chairman Judge Colby PeelÂ’s thoughts on the need for normalcy to return to Washington County Â– and how the communityÂ’s most iconic tradition will help accomplish that goal.
Â“We all need to get back to normal after the rough time our community has had over the last three years,Â” said Judge Peel. Â“We are excited, the artists are excited, our staff is excited, and our sponsors are excited to bring back this family friendly, free event for everyone to enjoy.Â”
The theme for the 65th annual Panhandle Watermelon Festival is Â“Melons and Music,Â” and the event will return this Friday and Saturday, June 25 and 26.
Gates open at 5 p.m. at Jim Trawick Park Friday, June 25. There will be childrenÂ’s activities, vendors, and of course, the much-anticipated free concert, featuring country music stars the Gatlin Brothers, Andy Griggs, and Jamie OÂ’Neal. This event is family friendly with festival style seating.
The event will continue Saturday, June 26, with a Pancake Breakfast, 5K Hot Trot, Watermelon Parade, Classic Car Show, Big Watermelon Auction, arts, crafts and food vendors.
The newly renovated Washington County Agricultural Center will serve as the hub of SaturdayÂ’s events, with Nashville songwriters Wendell Mobley and Lee Thomas Miller set to perform numerous number-one hits they have written for stars like Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Jamey Johnson, Jason Aldean, and others at 1:30 p.m.
New this year is the addition of food trucks where there will be a wide array of choices to fit even the hardest to please, according to Peel.
Â“We are delighted to add food trucks to the vendor list this year,Â” he said. Â“This will be the first time we have had food trucks as vendors. The variety alone, we hope, will be an enhancement to our festival.Â”
Judge Peel went on to say the impact of the festival to the community didnÂ’t fully hit him until he was forced to cancel the event last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
Â“I know people love to come, but I did not realize just how important the festival is to people,Â” he said. Â“This event means so much to so many, and we hope this yearÂ’s event will help people feel like life is back to normal.Â”
For more information on this yearÂ’s festival, visit: www.panhandlewatermelon.com